Board of Directors
Murali Naidu - President
Murali Naidu, MD is CEO of Doctor’s Hospital of Manteca. Previously, he held consulting and executive roles at several large health systems. These have included Vice President, Chief Clinical Officer for Sentara Healthcare and Vice President, Perioperative Services for Dignity Health. During his time at Dignity Health, he was also a practicing surgeon. Prior to Dignity, he was a consultant in McKinsey and Company’s healthcare practice. His previous board roles include the National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine’s Roundtable on Quality Care for People with Serious Illness and the Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Education at the University of Southern California.
Alejandro Lorenzo - Vice President
Alejandro is the Strategic & Operations Lead for YouTube’s Trust & Safety Operations team. Previously, he led a global team that advised LinkedIn’s leadership on monetization strategy and broader growth programs. Prior to LinkedIn, Alejandro worked as a business operations manager and consultant advising software and internet companies on pricing, sales, and marketing. He holds an M.B.A. from Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business and a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Rollins College. Alejandro is the proud father of two young boys who’ve flourished at BlueSkies.
Lisa Freitas - Secretary
Lisa Freitas is an Attorney/Mediator at Sawyer Mediation and provides family law consultation and mediation services for parties with divorce, parenting, custody, support and other family law disputes, as well as cohabitation, premarital and post marital agreements. Lisa holds a B.A. from UCLA, an M.A. Psychology from Golden Gate University and a J.D. from UC Hastings College of the Law. She and her husband live in Alameda with her stepson, Aidan, a Senior at Berkeley High School, their daughter, Olivia, 9, a BlueSkies alum and a 4th Grader at Otis Elementary School and their daughter, June, 4.5, in the Schoolroom at BlueSkies.
Michael Shih - Treasurer
Michael is the VP, Business Banking Sales Manager at U.S. Bank. His son is currently in the Todds at BlueSkies.
Claire Bainer - BlueSkies Administration
Claire Bainer has been the Co-Director of BlueSkies for Children since 1995, and the Director since 2018. With her mother, Anne Copenhagen, she was part of the founding group of educators who started the school in 1980 and joined the teaching team there in 1987. She carries primary responsibility for the programs, facilities, and fundraising, with special expertise in the preschool programs; she completed her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Mills College in 1975. She enjoys teaching part-time at Mills College and local Community Colleges and helping the field of early childhood education grow. Claire participates on committees throughout the Oakland bay area. She is the co-author of Second Home: A Day in the Life of a Model Early Childhood Program and has written and created many booklets and teacher training DVDs. Claire has two grown children: a daughter living in Australia and a son whose two children attended BlueSkies.
Brooke Abola is the proud parent of two BlueSkies graduates and is a past President of the Board of Directors. She currently works as a Deputy City Attorney in the Office of the San Francisco City Attorney and has spent her legal career advising public agencies on finance-related matters. Prior to the City, Brooke was a Senior Counsel at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and a partner at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. She has spent significant time on pro bono work for education-oriented nonprofits, including Appleseed, the Oakland Small Schools Foundation, and the Funding the Next Generation initiative. Before law school, she taught English Language Learners at Castlemont High School in Oakland as a Teach for America Corps Member. She enjoys cooking, hiking, bridge and karaoke.
Nick is not only a true Bay Area native, but an Oakland native who has spent the majority of his life and professional career in The Town. He is the owner of Woodminster Real Estate Company, Inc., a full-service real estate firm focused on residential property management and sales. He has been involved in real estate since 2002, continuously serving the East Bay, notably the cities of Oakland, San Leandro, Berkeley, and Piedmont. Nick has a commitment to community, a passion for property management with a hands-on approach, and a sincere wish to help people. He embraces the challenge of complying with ever-changing rental laws and regulations and educating both owners and tenants. A tireless problem-solver, he enjoys tackling small handyman jobs or, when needed, finding the right expert to handle property maintenance projects.
Nick is the parent of two young children, a son who has graduated from BlueSkies, and a daughter currently in the Todds group. An avid golfer, Nick has volunteered for The First Tee program supporting kids from the OUSD through a program that “aims to use the platform of golf to provide innovative and experiential learning opportunities for young people.”
Christa Edwards was Head Teacher in the Baby House for years before becoming Assistant Program Director at BlueSkies in 2017. She has worked in every classroom at the school, and is part of the administrative team of BlueSkies. She is responsible, under the direction of the Program Director, for curriculum development, staff development and management, and the development and cultivation of strong, positive, cooperative relationships with families beginning and continuing at BlueSkies. She received a B.A. in Classics from Scripps College, including a term at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and has since acquired an additional 27 Early Childhood Education units from Cerro Coso College. She lives in Richmond with her husband and daughter, and spends her scant free time gardening, reading, playing games, and redecorating.
Erika Gilfether supervises the 7 preschool classroom at UNOW Day Nursery, the child care center serving faculty and staff at Princeton University in her role as the Preschool Program Coordinator. She has a BFA in Dance from NYU and an MS in Child Development from The Erikson Institute in Chicago, IL. She previously, very happily served as the Assistant Director of BlueSkies for Children (an institution very near and dear to her heart) from 2013 – 2016.
Riana Hensel is a Spanish teacher to grades 3-5 at St. Paul’s Episcopal School. She is beginning her thirteenth year teaching this fall. Riana has the distinguished pleasure of being the first AOCS (the former name of BlueSkies) alumna to serve on the Board of Directors! She also attended St. Paul’s as a little girl. In fact, she is still friends with some of her classmates from BlueSkies and St. Paul’s from over 30 years ago. Her journey as an educator has seen her teaching every age from 2.5 year-olds to Seniors in High School. Her love of young children was cultivated during her two years teaching at Hilltop Children’s Center, a Reggio Emilia inspired preschool in Seattle, and solidified during her Master’s work at Mills College. Riana reconnected with her Oakland roots while working on a Teaching Credential and Master’s at Mills, focusing her studies on issues of race and racism writing a thesis titled, “A Qualitative Interview Study of Teachers’ Experiences Addressing Race and Racism in Their Early Childhood Classrooms.” She lives with her partner in Berkeley and enjoys cooking, being outdoors, listening to audio books narrated by Australians, and exploring the world.
Dr. Rose Snyder
Dr. Rose Snyder is a clinical psychologist with a private practice in the Elmwood neighborhood of Berkeley. In 2005-2007, she worked as a psychotherapy intern at BlueSkies, through a program called The Link to Children (TLC). She loved the school so much that she kept in touch over the years and then accepted a position as the Director of Mental Health at BlueSkies upon completing her licensure in 2012. For six years, she worked as “Dr. Rose” at BlueSkies, providing psychotherapy to children and families at the school, offering education to school staff regarding development and mental health issues for young children, and consulting with staff on an as-needed basis. Dr. Rose sees clients of all ages in her private practice and is the mother of two young children, ages 4 and 6.
Barrie’s two children attend and adore BlueSkies. She works as an Organization Development consultant in the Bay Area and holds a masters in Critical Media and Cultural Studies from SOAS in London, and is working toward her Masters in Organization Development.
Holds her MA in History from Howard University. She is currently the Organizational Effectiveness Lead for Blend. Her son is a recent graduate of BlueSkies.
Ceinwyn Valo is the Director of Strategic Projects at Kaiser. She holds an MBA from UC Berkeley. Her daughter is a BlueSkies alum, and her son is currently in the Schoolroom.
Erin Jozwiak is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at UCSF-Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland where she has worked in the Department of Gastroenterology since 2005. Erin specializes in working with patients with lysosomal storage disorders and other rare diseases. A graduate of Duke University and Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, she has called Oakland home since 2004. She and her husband have three sons, all of whom have attended and love BlueSkies for Children, from the Baby House all the way through the preschool program.